Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is known for bold statements, and he made a few Wednesday at a conference in Nashville on the topic of banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
“I know I’m prejudiced, and I know I’m bigoted in a lot of different ways,” Cuban said in an interview shown at the annual GrowCo convention hosted by Inc. magazine, according to The Tennessean.
“If I see a black kid in a hoodie on my side of the street, I’ll move to the other side of the street. If I see a white guy with a shaved head and tattoos (on the side he now is on), I’ll move back to the other side of the street. None of us have pure thoughts; we all live in glass houses.”
The Mavericks owner issued a five-part tweet Thursday afternoon in which he apologized to Trayvon Martin’s parents for the hoodie reference, but stood by the context of his answers and called for more tolerance…
CNN commentator and ESPN senior writer LZ Granderson said he thought Cuban was trying to have a nuanced conversation but didn’t do it very well.
Granderson said he was disturbed that Cuban equated the hoodie stereotype — something he said has led to unjust treatment of African-Americans and even killings — to the stereotype of the tattooed white man.
Cuban said he is “100 percent proud” of his original comments on the issues other than using some poor examples to convey his own prejudices while attempting to emphasize the importance of acknowledging personal flaws and evolving as a society…
“Clearly, I wouldn’t use the hoodie example [again], because that kind of distracted from the discussion and it wasn’t very appropriate given what happened to the Martin family, so I offered my apologies to the Martin family,” Cuban said. “Excluding that, I would do it all again, same way, every day.”
Cuban said the vast majority of the reaction he has received after his comments, made during the Inc. interview and an ensuing appearance at the magazine’s GrowCo convention Wednesday, has been supportive.
“It’s been 99 percent positive except in some of the media,” Cuban said. “With a topic like this, you’re always going to have people who take sides. That’s probably where I’ve gotten the most grief, but the good news is I haven’t really watched it. I’ve just gotten it secondhand, and I kind of expected it. I knew when I was saying it that it was going to cause a firestorm in some respects, but the audience I was talking to was full of entrepreneurs and business people. It’s a topic that’s important to them, and right now, it’s something they’re going through, particularly because all the Donald Sterling stuff brought a lot of attention to them.
ESPN personality Bomani Jones even engaged Cuban with a war of the words on Twitter on Thursday morning.
“Cuban did punk out with that ‘i’m scared of white guys with tattoos’ point, too. Not the same as a hooded sweatshirt, slugger.”
Cuban responded: “What would make you cross the street in fear late at night? Anything?”
Jones answered, “Not a person, no. As I said, if it’s like that, the person’s coming with you. I’m not that fast or in running shame. It’d be futile.”
Cuban retorted, “So you fear no one because it’s pointless to do so? Am I understanding you correctly?”
Jones: “I’m not fearless, but I’m not crossing the street. Past that, though: damn sure not cuz someone’s got a hoodie on and I says that as someone who’s been robbed at gunpoint by someone in a hoodie.”
By acknowledging a fear of a “black kid in a hoodie,’’ Cuban is admitting he is scared of many of his own players and fans, as the hoodie is a common piece of wardrobe for young people of all races. He’s also buying into the sort of fears that led to the 2012 Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, an incident that sparked national outrage. In fact, players from the Miami Heat even wore hoodies one day in protest of the fatal shooting of the black teenager.
Just because Cuban says he is trying “not to be hypocritical” does not mean that he can be excused for his ignorance. Simply because he praises this country’s fight against bigotry doesn’t give him a pass to sound like a bigot.
Mark Cuban is not Donald Sterling. He doesn’t have Sterling’s racist past. He is considered one of the league’s smartest and most passionate owners.
But after making those comments, Cuban appears to be lot closer to Sterling than anyone ever imagined, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver needs to deal with the dangers of that proximity.
Defending Cuban yesterday, a number of commentators pointed to a famous press conference in 1993, during which Jesse Jackson lamented that, “there is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Why does it matter that Jackson said this? Not, I’d propose, because a black person’s having said it justifies any nefarious instincts that non-blacks might have. But because Jackson’s having admitted to it indicates just how widespread such fears are. Again, a useful response in this instance would not be to complain that Cuban’s professed fears might potentially hurt feelings and should therefore be kept quiet, but to inquire as to whether his inclination is warranted. One might discover that Jackson and Cuban are both overly afraid and should learn to be more judicious; or that it is destructive to minorities for collective crime statistics to so readily be put on the shoulders of innocent individuals; or that, while there is something rational to their fears, it nevertheless shows just how potent racial inequalities remain in everyday life. As it happens, if it says anything much at all, Cuban’s admission plays into the Left’s contention that there is widespread anxiety about black men in hoodies, and that this fear sometimes has fatal consequences. Whatever one’s view, shouldn’t his judgment be welcomed as a useful piece of information?
Fleshing out his accusation of cowardice, [Eric] Holder lamented that “certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks at best embarrassment and at worst the questioning of one’s character.” Once again, he was right. Any meaningful “conversation” dealing with a topic as weighty as race will have to be predicated on the ironclad understanding that contributors will not be crucified for their participation. We are not yet ready to offer that assurance. Mark Cuban broached one of Holder’s “certain subjects” and he took an honest shot at exploring it. For his troubles, he has been embarrassed and his character has been questioned. Far from encouraging others to contribute, such a reaction is all but guaranteed to ensure that others will demur from following the example. Who among us will bare our souls if only to have stakes driven through them by our self-appointed judges? Not Mark Cuban. Not me. Not anybody else in the nation of cowards.